The Tangled campaign collects hair to provide wigs for cancer patients
Does it upset you to see your well-oiled, shampoo-fed, conditioner-soaked, spa-treated tresses landing on the floor and being heartlessly swept away after the hairstylist has chopped it? Well, here’s a reason to feel good about. Tangled, an initiative started by Rennee Saradha as a project for the Rotaract Club (Women’s Christian College) aims to collect hair to make wigs for cancer patients at the Adyar Cancer Institute.
“I was inspired by Locks of Love, a U.S-based organisation that has a similar philosophy. My younger sister showed me their site and she wanted to donate her hair to them. So I thought of starting something similar here,” says Rennee who pitched this idea to her college authorities and it was approved instantly.
“We looked for sponsors and were wondering if we should get people to come to our college to cut hair. Finally, Green Trends came on board, sent their stylists to the college and provided facility at all their salons for the collection. The drive took off on February 4 this year,” she says. The minimum length of hair to be collected should be eight inches and two inches thick, and the hair should not be chemically-treated. All the hairdressers were then trained to follow the right cutting procedure and maintain hygiene.
Rennee was the first to donate her hair. For a few days, before the drive, she kept agonising over what she should do — tonsure her head or just cut her hair short. “On the day of the drive, I decided to go all the way. After which, I actually didn’t get to see myself for the next four hours as it was such a busy day and I had to rush from one college to another. When I did see myself I thought it was pretty okay…all for a good cause,” she smiles.
The drive saw a lot of donors. Not just college students, even clients who walked into Green Trends salons willingly donated. This included seven-to50-year-olds and 2,000 people from the city. The response ensured that the drive was extended till March. Apart from Chennai, Tangled was also taken to Ennore, Vellore and Bangalore and was led by Rotaract team head Sumaya Fathima. On the whole around 84 kg of hair was collected.
After the drive ended, the team collected the hair from all the centres and sent to Raj Hair, a Chennai-based company that makes wigs. They cleaned, boiled and processed. With the quantity of hair collected around 220 wigs can be made. So far 20 have been completed and sent to the Adyar Cancer Institute. “The institute gets around 100 women a week undergoing chemotherapy and every month they require at least 100 wigs. The priority is patients between the age group of 18-30. We met a college student with cancer who dropped out because she was finding it difficult to manage with her rapidly falling hair. We gave her a wig and hopefully she can continue her education now,” says Rennee and adds, “We require nine lakh rupees to make the 200 wigs. So far we’ve collected five lakhs, thanks to Rotarians and we are still collecting.”
Next year Tangled hopes to make it to cities across the country; collect more hair so there can be more wigs to provide cancer patients the confidence and joy that a quickly receding hairline can take away.